Continuing surge of COVID-19 means delays in test results


HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Gov. Jim Justice again talked about his desire for West Virginians to get tested, stating free test sites can be found on the state health department’s website.

However, getting a test—and getting the results back in a timely manner—are two very different things.

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, physician director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, says the delay in getting test results back means those waiting need to be even more cautious.

“We may have plenty of cars but if we don’t get gasoline, we’re limited in what we can travel.” 

Dr. Michael Kilkenny M.D., M.S., physician director of Cabell-Huntington Health Department

Shortages and delays have become a familiar theme throughout this pandemic.

First personal protective equipment, then ventilators; now, it’s tests and test results.

“The average we’ve had in the last few days has been four days turnaround time.” 

Dr. Michael Kilkenny M.D., M.S., physician director of Cabell-Huntington Health Department

This turnaround time is much better than the 12-14 day waits at the height of the first surge in April, but in an environment where the goal is a 24 hour turn around, the current delay is far from ideal.

“Most of the turnaround time is related to the amount of tests being done. So, as the nation went into this surge, that started in June, we really began to see that our reference labs were not able to turn those around. What we’re hearing back from them is that they are inundated from tests from all around.” 

Dr. Michael Kilkenny M.D., M.S., physician director of Cabell-Huntington Health Department

With a virus this contagious, four days of not knowing your results can make all the difference. It’s part of the reason Kilkenny says the county is seeing climbing numbers.

Cases have more than doubled over the past month, from 104 on June 26th to 278 on July 25th. More staggering, however, is the cumulative number of lab tests done: in Cabell County alone, there have been nearly 24,000 people tested.

The Cabell-Huntington Health department’s guidance has remained the same over these past few months. Yet, residents of Cabell County are saying they think more people are adhering to it now.

“Locally, I think we’re doing okay. Pretty much everyone I’ve seen has been wearing a mask.” 

Casey Blough, Cabell County Resident

“Since the last guidelines, you know, there’s a lot of people that didn’t wear a mask and since then you know stores, post office everything, I’d say about 95 percent of everybody is wearing a mask of some sort.” 

Mason Finley, Cabell County Resident

The guidance, of course, remains to social distance and wear masks, and to isolate yourself if you feel ill—especially if you’ve recently had a test and are awaiting results.

To find out more information, visit the Cabell-Huntington Health Department’s COVID-19 webpage.

For more facts and statistics about your county, visit the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 webpage.

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